Striking television and film writers on two coasts gave a warm reception to a tentative contract deal reached on Saturday with major studios, signaling that Hollywood’s bruising three-month-old labor clash is near a conclusion.
But union leaders urging support for the deal left unclear exactly how much longer it might take to send the 10,500 screenwriters back to work, ending a walkout that has crippled the television industry and overshadowed the Oscar season.
The governing bodies of the Writers Guild of America (WGA) were expected to vote on Sunday to formally endorse the proposed settlement, which hinged on how writers should be paid for work distributed over the Internet.
They also could vote then to call off the strike as early as Monday, pending ratification of the labor pact by union rank-and-file — a procedure that normally takes at least 10 days.
But a union spokeswoman and several writers emerging from a boisterous late-night briefing on the deal said WGA leaders were more likely to invoke an expedited 48-hour ratification process that would essentially leave the decision to lift the walkout in the hands of union members at large.
Under that scenario, writers would not return to work before mid-week, union officials said.
The tentative deal to settle the worst Hollywood labour confrontation in 20 years was announced to WGA members early Saturday in an e-mail from WGA West president Patric Verrone and WGA East president Michael Winship.
"While this agreement is neither perfect nor perhaps all that we deserve ... our strike has been a success,” they wrote.
“It creates formulas for revenue-based residuals in new media, provides access to deals and financial data to help us evaluate and enforce those formulas, and establishes the principle that, ‘When they get paid, we get paid,’” they said.
There was no comment from the studios’ bargaining arm, the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers.